Updated from 4:10 p.m. EST
The stock market picked itself up to end at session highs Wednesday, as buyers went bargain-hunting for technology shares late in the day.
were among the most heavily traded, pulling the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
into positive territory. Semiconductor shares also helped the tech sector, with
The Dow gained 28 points, or 0.4%, to end at 7552, after reaching an intraday low of 7416, while the Nasdaq closed 8 points higher, or 0.6%, at 1279, after having been as low as 1253. The
went up 3 points, or 0.4%, to 804. Earlier in the session, the index had hit the 788 mark.
Despite the late-day recovery, concerns lingered. "Investors are not in a big hurry to commit a lot of money to this market. People are waiting on the sidelines, with trading volume much lighter than even a month ago," said Scott Marcouiller, vice president and market analyst at A.G. Edwards & Sons.
, about 1.6 billion shares were traded, with losers outpacing winners by 3 to 2. Some 1.5 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq, with decliners also ahead of advancers by almost a 3-to-2 margin.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration said it needed one more vote to complete the nine necessary for a U.N. resolution that would give Iraq a deadline to disarm. U.S. State Department officials were focusing on Mexico and Chile for the needed backing.
U.S. markets are marching to the drums of war these days, but the uncertain timing is throwing investors off. After a delay in a second resolution vote on Iraq in the U.N., news that backing for the U.S. is increasingly losing steam has left the market jittery. White House officials acknowledged Wednesday that they don't have the support needed for a U.N.-approved attack against Iraq and said they would accept a short extension of the Monday deadline for a resolution vote. Meantime, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's suggestion that the U.S. might invade Iraq without Britain's help -- and subsequent backtracking -- served to further agitate investors.
"People are just paralyzed with fear. Everyone is just sitting on their hands, unwilling to make any long-term bets," said David Williamson, director of research at Swiss American Securities. "Investors are pretty certain we'll go to war, but the million-dollar question is: Will there be a relief rally or will
military action further stoke their fears?"
The government's trade deficit figures served as the only indicator Wednesday, coming in slightly narrower than expected at $41.1 billion in January. Imports fell 2%, despite the rise in energy prices, while exports rose 1.6%.
Among shares, Altera gained 7.6% to $12.55 after the maker of programmable chips said first-quarter sales will grow 4% from the fourth quarter's 180.6 million. That is above the company's initial estimate, which said revenue would remain flat.
Shares of chipmaker Broadcom moved up 4.4% to $14.71 after analysts at Salomon Smith Barney upgraded the stock to in-line from underperform, saying news flow for the company is going from negative to positive.
shares lost 1.8% to $33.96 following an oil sector downgrade from J.P. Morgan analyst David Wheeler, to neutral from overweight. He thinks the sector's shares won't continue to outperform the broader market since high energy prices won't avoid future declines.
shares closed down 1.4% at $62.84, while
stocks shed 3.7% to end at $37.42.
Federal regulators have expanded their investigation of
AOL Time Warner
and two former online unit executives to include alleged "aiding and abetting" of schemes by other companies to artificially inflate results, the
reported. AOL shares lost 3.8% to $10.69.
American Airlines parent
shares closed 10% lower at $1.43 after Standard & Poor's said it will remove the carrier's shares from the S&P 500 after the end of Thursday's trading session.
managed to gain 0.4% to $16.08 despite a warning. The women's clothes retailer said its first-quarter profit will be between 39 cents and 41 cents a share because of weaker sales from stores open at least a year. The company's initial estimate was to earn between 45 cents and 47 cents a share this quarter.
Treasuries were higher, with the 10-year note up 3/32 to yield 3.58%. Crude oil prices for April delivery fell, while the dollar rose against the Japanese yen and the euro.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 44 points Tuesday, or 0.6%, to 7524, after hitting 7642, while the Nasdaq Composite ended 7 points lower, or 0.5%, at 1271, after reaching the intraday high of 1288. The S&P 500 closed down 7 points, or 0.8%, at 800. During the session, it hit a high of 814 points.
European bourses posted significant declines, with London's FTSE 100 down 4.80% to 3287 and Germany's Xetra DAX moving 4.83% lower to 2193. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed 1.03% higher at 7943, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.17% to 8874.